Millennial Women Discuss the Movies, Magazines, & Attitudes That Destroyed Their Self-Esteem

This may be hard for some people to believe, but we millennials weren’t always the weary, depressed, broke people lined up to order the latest take on avocado toast or specialty coffee beverages. Nay, we were once young and full of life and hope. Just kidding, we were once young and battling an incredibly toxic culture surrounding body image that seemed to come at us from all angles. 

While the thin and sickly “heroin chic” look had fallen out of style by the mid-nineties, slimness was still the physical ideal, and the standard was force-fed to us in magazines, television shows, and movies. If the media wasn’t tearing down celebs for being “fat” at size 8, they were offering up weight loss tips that ranged from stupid to dangerous. This attitude left an indelible mark, especially on the young millennial women (like myself) who were growing up at the time. It’s no wonder that the number of registered anorexia sufferers skyrocketed between the nineties and the early aughts. While it seems that many people struck with ED during this time have recovered, the damage that these unrealistic and even cruel beauty standards have caused to our psyches is incredibly difficult to repair. 

Twitter user @tara_watson_ brought up a great example of this toxicity this week. The tweet reads “Millennial women have trust issues because we were told for three Bridget Jones movies that this woman wasn’t thin,” and the text is accompanied by an image of Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones. 

As someone who read all of the Bridget Jones books, and enjoyed the movies in theaters, I was stunned to see exactly how thin Bridget appears in the film still. As a teen, I was convinced she was super chunky, which should have been horrifying then, and is absolutely horrifying now. The tweet seems to have resonated with other millennial women, who chimed in to share their thoughts on Bridget Jones and other movies, shows, and characters that inspired some serious body dysmorphia. Beauty standards may still have a long way to go, but they’re definitely not as toxic.